You ever feel the need to draw to get out your creative side – but you aren’t sure how to begin?

You aren’t alone.  This need inspired the creation of Zentangle Patterns.

Maria Thomas used to inscribe her botanical illustrations at local fairs.  People – strangers -would approach her and express their desire for creativity.  In the next breath, they would recite all the reasons why they couldn’t do what she was doing—no time, space, money, talent…

One day while Maria was working on a lettering background, Rick interrupted her. She described her experience while working as “feeling timeless, free and engendering a sense of deep well-being.” They realized that her relaxed experience came from creating an art form that was possible for everyone to do.

Thus in 2003 Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas created the Zentangle Method.

What Are Zentangles?

Zentangles is a drawing method anyone can do regardless of your artistic and creative abilities, time, or money available. If you can draw lines, dots or any shape, then you can create drawings with the Zentangle method.

There are no significant layout costs to get started with Zentangle Patterns. It’s an inexpensive, creative activity that only requires a white piece of paper and a black pen. When you have a few minutes, you can draw, and continue later when you have another ten minutes to spare.

Although it looks intricate, the Zentangles method merely is the drawing of small patterns on a tile. A picture emerges from the repetition of these simple, structured, patterned doodles.

Zentangle Method

What are the steps to create a drawing using the trademarked Zentangle Method?

  • Drawings are created on a square 3.5-inch piece of unlined white paper called a tile.
  • Use black ink on white paper and a pencil for the grey shading.
  • With a pencil draw a border lightly around the edges of the tile. Don’t use a ruler or any other object to draw the border lines. (Place a dot in each corner to guide you in creating the border lines). Draw it lightly so that it won’t be seen when you’ve created your Zentangle with the pen.
  • Use the pencil to draw lightly one or more strings inside the border. These strings divide the tile into various sections. The patterns formed will be according to the structures created by the lines. There’s no wrong or right way; it’s merely drawing what comes naturally.
  • Use a pen to draw a tangle existing of lines, dots, ovals, squiggles or circles along within the sections formed by the outline of the strings. Don’t think about it – draw a pattern and repeat it within that specific section. When completed, start with another section drawing the same or a different design. For extra depth or effect, use a pencil for shading.

How Do They Help Kids

Zentangle patterns is an activity that is fun to do while kids learn patience and improve their skills. The most significant benefit is how it inspires mindfulness in children.

Develop Fine Motor Skills and Hand-Eye Coordination

Creating Zentangle patterns strengthens the development of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. The child learns to draw designs. If the student is too young, then the teacher can draw tangles with lines that the child can fill in with dots, circles or other shapes.

Although a Zentangle is black on white, you can add color to the Zentangle. It may not be true to the trademarked Zentangle method, but it is a fun way to develop fine motor skills by teaching the child to color within borders.

Relaxed Focus

In contrast to doodling, creating Zentangles inspires relaxed focus.

When your mind wanders, you’ll often find yourself doodling on a piece of paper. In other words, you’re not entirely paying attention to the person talking, teaching or to the phone conversation.

When creating Zentangles the student is completely focused on the activity but relaxed. It requires the child’s full attention because each line, dot or shape is drawn deliberately.

The drawing is relaxing because it develops as the child draws. In other words, there’s no specific picture the child needs to draw.

No Failures, Only Outcomes

It motivates children to try new things and to experiment with confidence. There isn’t a right or wrong drawing. Whatever the child draws, is right. Nothing needs to be erased; “mistakes” become part of the creation. In other words, there are no failures, only outcomes.

A “mistake” gives the Zentangle pattern a new option or direction that didn’t exist before the “mistake.”

It allows the child to freely draw without comparing themselves to other “more talented” kids. The child draws the patterns as simple or complex as their skills allow them. They should challenge themselves to create more elaborate patterns and to stimulate their imagination.

With Zentangles and kids, the only failure is not to try.

Inspires Creativity

Instead of focusing on shortcomings, the child is encouraged to be creative. While developing motor skills, the student freely draws patterns in a structured form. It may seem contradictory, but it’s not.

It’s allowing the child to be as creative as they want to be without zooming in on their limited skills or abilities. With the repeating of the patterns, the structured drawing emerges.

Zentangle patterns is an art activity all students can take part in irrespective of their talents and abilities. In other words, it inspires creativity and creates an opportunity for the child to maximize their potential.

More Zentanlge Benefits

  • Zentangle patterns create beautiful art irrespective of the person’s artistic abilities.
  • It improves self-esteem when the child sees what they’ve accomplished with simple patterns.
  • Tension eases when the students relax and focuses on drawing unique art.
  • It could improve sleeping patterns because the relaxing effect helps reduce stress and to process the day’s events.
  • The child’s attention span can improve due to the relaxed but focused nature of creating Zentangle patterns.
  • Creating Zentangle patterns helps improve problem-solving skills.
  • It is a tool to use for behavior management.

How To Use In The Classroom

Art Principles

A Zentangle pattern is an art form. Therefore, it is a great way to teach art principles to children that think they can’t draw. Even for the less talented, it is a way to express their creativity and produce something unique and beautiful.

Keep Busy

There are always students that complete tasks, assignments, and tests before the rest of the class. Drawing Zentangle patterns can keep these kids quiet and busy while the rest of the classroom is still finishing their tasks or tests.

Develop Fine Motor Skills

Draw simple Zentangle patterns for younger children to trace. While having fun, they improve their motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

For older students, draw the strings and let them create their patterns inside the sections. Hand-eye coordination is strengthened while they draw and practice repetitive patterns.

Learn and Develop Handwriting

Using pens and pencils teach younger children how to grip and hold writing tools correctly. Tracing or drawing patterns with the same shapes and curves found in the alphabet letters, can help children create letters when learning to write.

For older students, it helps develop handwriting skills. It may even improve handwriting that is challenging to read or untidy.

Relax Before Difficult Subjects

Some subjects are difficult for children to comprehend. When stressed or anxious, the students find it difficult to listen and understand what is taught. Use the Zentangle method to relax students before teaching a difficult subject.

Drawing these patterns helps the students focus and improve their concentration. When the lesson starts, they are already in the right frame of mind to concentrate while learning the material taught.

Improved Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a valuable asset all students need throughout their life. Creating Zentangle patterns is a great tool to teach mindfulness to kids.

While drawing tangles, students relax, focusing their attention on the task at hand. The relaxing effect helps to calm stressful or anxious, unhappy emotions. They are aware of their emotions and thoughts in a fun and creative atmosphere.

Drawing Zentangle patterns allows them to express their imaginations creatively while developing motor skills, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving techniques, improved concentration, and learning to manage unpleasant behaviors.


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